Assaultive Crimes

Assault charges are serious and can range from simple assault to assault with the intent to commit murder.

Many of these cases actually go to trial. To effectively defend against a domestic violence charge, for example,  an attorney must be an accomplished trial lawyer. A prosecutor will not take a defense seriously if the attorney has a reputation for guilty pleas. If the facts demonstrate it, self-defense is typically a very effective argument when defending against a domestic assault charge.

Michigan law sometimes allows a person charged with domestic violence to plead guilty and have the case dismissed after successful completion of a probationary period which will generally include the completion of a domestic violence program that can last as long as one year.

We caution people to consider all of the consequences before taking this option – after a few months of this supervision; clients often wish they fought the case which The Law Office of Barton Morris is always ready and willing to do.

These charges can affect your life, reputation and employment opportunities. Contact our office if you have been charged with an assaultive crime. Attorney Barton Morris will use an aggressive approach in your defense.


Self-defense is probably the most common defense used in assault and battery cases. In order to establish self-defense, an accused must generally show:

  • a threat of unlawful force or harm against them;
  • a real, honest perceived fear of harm to themselves (there must be a reasonable basis for this perceived fear);
  • no harm or provocation on their part; and
  • there was no reasonable chance of retreating or escaping the situation

Defense of Others

This defense is very similar to that of self-defense, with the only difference being that the individual must have an honest and real perceived fear of harm to another person. The limitations that apply to self-defense apply similarly to defending others, and the accused must have had reasonable grounds for their perceived fear in order to establish this defense.

Defense of Property

A defendant in an assault/battery case may be able to claim that he acted only in defense of his or her property against being invaded or illegally withheld. It is important to note that the availability and extent of this defense varies from state to state, however. Where available, this defense generally allows for an individual to use reasonable force in defense of their property, particularly where a person’s own home is involved. The law is more divided on the issue of defending personal property. Generally, if there is some sort of dispute over personal property, the owner is not entitled to use force to retrieve it. On the other hand, if property has been stolen directly from an individual (e.g. by a pickpocket, or purse-snatcher), they may have the right to use reasonable force to recover such property.


Consent may be available as a defense to an assault/battery charge, depending on the jurisdiction. Where available, if an individual has consented voluntarily to a particular act, then that same act generally cannot be asserted to constitute an assault and battery. But if the extent of the act exceeds the permission provided, it can still provide grounds for assault and battery charges. Also, it should be noted that courts scrutinize consent as a defense closely, and tend to find that harmful actions, even if consented to, violate public policy and should still be punished under assault, battery, or other laws.

If you have been charged with an assaultive crime in the Oakland, Wayne or Macomb County communities of Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Warren, Troy or any surrounding area and want the best defense, call Michigan Criminal Attorney Barton Morris at (248) 541-2600. Recently voted Top Attorney in Metro Detroit for 2012 and 2013 in Criminal Defense.